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UK Food Festivals in August

Saturday, August 9th, 2014
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As a nation of food lovers, it’s no surprise that there are few things more appealing to us Brits than a food festival. Whether it’s a modest local event with a few stalls or a more extravagant affair with live kitchens and entertainment, a British food festival is a fantastic day out for young and old alike. To whet your appetite for the many food festivals taking place this summer, we’ve compiled a shortlist of our favourites.

Oxfordshire Chilli Festival, 16th August

Chillis at a food festival

Via Flickr

If you’re into spicy food then one food festival you don’t want to miss this summer is the Oxfordshire Chilli Festival. Located in the historic market town of Abingdon, this festival promises to be a fun and unique day out for all the family! Follow the Chilli Trail around this beautiful Oxfordshire town and discover stalls from the best chilli products on offer in the UK. There’s also set to be chilli cook-offs, and one for the brave- a chilli eating competition. For a food festival with a difference, the Oxfordshire Chilli Festival is sure to get your taste-buds tingling!

BBC Good Food Festival, 23rd- 25th August

Churros at a food festival

Via Flickr

This August bank holiday weekend, Hampton Court Palace is hosting the very first BBC Good Food Festival. This festival is sure to be a real treat for foodies, promising artisan produce and street food, along with family entertainment including cookery lessons for kids, chocolate kitchens and a maze! You can also watch some top chefs cooking live on the Summer Kitchen stage, with demonstrations from the likes of Gregg Wallace, Shelina Permalloo and Lisa Faulkner to name just a few. Throw in some live music and book signings for good measure, and visitors are sure to have a fantastic weekend.

Newlyn Fish Festival, 25th August

Fish food festival

Via Flickr

The annual Newlyn Fish Festival is taking place for the 25th time this August and promises to be a fabulous celebration of Cornish seafood. Newlyn is one of Cornwall’s oldest and most distinctive fishing ports and is the perfect place to explore the incredible seafood culture that Cornwall has to offer. The festival itself offers a great variety of things to keep you entertained including a fish auction, Great Cornish Fish Off, fish display and plenty of cooking demonstrations. In addition, there’s also live music and entry is free for children under 16!

If you’re heading to a food festival this summer and need somewhere to stay, then look no further than our wide range of holiday cottages across the UK and Ireland. We now have over 5,000 self catering cottages to choose from!

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Autumn Sale Now On!

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
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The Sykes Cottages fantastic Autumn Sale has now begun! Save up to 20% on participating cottages for a holiday between 29th August and 25th October 2014! Autumn is a great time to take a holiday; the kids are back in school, the evenings are still light and the temperatures are still warm, so why not make the most of it?! Book your cottage in our Autumn Sale today for a great value holiday to remember! On today’s blog, we’re taking a look at some of the fabulous cottages participating in the sale and highlighting the savings you could make! Make sure you book your favourite cottage as soon as possible as our Autumn Sale is very popular and you don’t want someone else to get there first!

Mountain View, Lake District

Holiday cottage in Lake District

Mountain View, Lake District, Ref. 20672

This beautiful self-catering holiday home is situated in the heart of the picturesque village of Arnside, at the southernmost tip of the Lake District. Offering panoramic views over the estuary and Coniston Fells, Mountain View is the perfect retreat for a relaxing getaway with family or friends. From the apartment, you can easily reach the Lake District National Park and hot spots such as Windermere; or if you prefer to stay a little closer to home, the charming café culture of Arnside is more than enough to keep you occupied. Mountain View is offering a discount of 10% off the rental price for weeks between Friday 29th August to Friday 26th September 2014 and 20% off the rental price for weeks between Friday 26th September and Monday 27th October 2014.

Yate Cottage, Yorkshire Dales

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

Yate Cottage, Yorkshire Dales, Ref. 913883

If you’re thinking of booking a romantic break with your loved one this autumn, then look no further than Yate Cottage in Oxenhope. This Grade II listed cottage is nestled in a stunning countryside location but still within 5 minutes’ walk of the nearest shop and pub. This characterful holiday cottage boasts plenty of original features and there are many scenic walks that you can embark on from your doorstep. Guests can also explore the spacious formal gardens belonging to the owners and roam their woodland, where you can often see red deer. Yate Cottage is also close to the historic town of Haworth, which was once home to the Brontë sisters and was where they wrote their most celebrated novels. This lovely cottage is offering a discount of 10% off the rental price for weeks between Saturday 27th September and Tuesday 28th October 2014.

Bay View, Devon

Holiday cottage in Devon

Bay View, Devon, Ref. 30926

Ensure that you make the most of the autumn sunshine and book a stay in this fabulous holiday cottage on the English Riviera. Sleeping 6, Bay View is a bright and airy holiday home that’s ideal for a family or group of friends looking to enjoy the delights of the south coast of Devon. Bay View has sea views from most of its rooms and a wide veranda which overlooks the coastline; perfect for relaxing with a glass of wine on a balmy autumn evening! This seaside cottage is offering 10% off the rental price for weeks between Saturday 30th August and Tuesday 28th October 2014.

To see the full selection of cottages taking part in our Autumn Sale, please visit our website. Alternatively, you can give our reservations specialists a call on 01244 356 695. They’re on hand 7 days a week from 9am until 9.30pm and will be only too happy to help you find your perfect cottage in this year’s Autumn Sale.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

British Marine Life: Where to Find it?

Saturday, July 26th, 2014
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From 26th July to 10th August 2014, the Wildlife Trust is celebrating the fascinating sea animals and plants that live in the UK’s marine environment for National Marine Week. This event takes place annually, taking on a different theme every year. The theme for 2014 is centred on five of the most common types of starfish found in the UK: the cushion, the bloody Henry, the common, the spiny and the brittle. Here at Sykes Cottages, we’re huge lovers of all things nature so we’ve decided to write a guide to some of the best places in the UK to see marine wildlife.

Where to find the best rock pools

Wembury Beach in Devon

Via Flickr

If there’s one thing kids love to do on a beach holiday, it’s explore the rock pools; there’s nothing more exciting when you’re a child than spotting a crab or finding a particularly pretty shell. Our pick of the best rock pools in Britain is Wembury on the south coast of Devon. Wembury is renowned for its fantastic rockpooling opportunities. Here, you can find a wide array of wildlife including Cornish Sucker Fish, Velvet Swimming Crabs, Long-Spined Sea Scorpions and both cushion and spiny starfish. There are many safety considerations to bear in mind when you’re rockpooling (both for yourself and the wildlife) so be sure to read the Devon Wildlife’s Trust Seashore Code before you head out.

Where to see seals

Seals at Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Via Flickr

Seals are one of the most popular forms of marine wildlife for tourists to seek out and luckily, they can be found in lots of places along the British coastline. One of our favourite spots to go looking for seals is Blakeney in Norfolk. From the quay, you can catch a boat out to Blakeney Point where you will find around 500 Common and Grey seals basking on the sandbanks. The peak seal-watching period lasts from April until October so make sure you bear this in mind when you book your trip!

Where to discover whales and dolphins


Picture provided by Holly Magoolagan

Scotland is one of the best places in the UK to see whales and dolphins. If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of a Minke Whale then head to the east coast of the Shetland Islands between May and September, or to experience the majestic Sperm Whale, you can catch a boat from the Outer Hebrides to just west of the continental shelf edge. Scotland also offers one of the most iconic colonies of dolphins in the UK, the bottlenose pods in the Moray Firth. The best place in the Moray Firth to see dolphins is at Chanonry Point, Cromarty, which is where the highest number of sightings have been reported.

Where to encounter birds

Puffin At Skomer Island

Via Flickr

Skomer Island is home to one of the largest colonies of sea-birds in the UK and is just 15 minutes off the stunning Pembrokeshire coastline. Skomer boasts the world’s largest population of Manx Shearwaters, a cousin of the wandering albatross, with an estimated 120,000 breeding pairs inhabiting the island. However, these birds only leave and return to the island under cover of darkness so in order to get the chance to fully experience these incredible birds, you will need to book one of the guided night walks organised by the Wildlife Trust. Skomer is also home to a large number of puffins, razorbills, guillemots and short-eared owls, to name just a few!

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Spectacular Holiday Cottages in Scotland

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
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With the start of the 2014 Commonwealth Games yesterday, all eyes are on Scotland for what is sure to be a fantastic fortnight of  sport. To celebrate the buzz surrounding Scotland at the moment, we’ve put together a shortlist of some of our most spectacular Scottish holiday cottages for you to enjoy.

Beach Cottage, Sandend

Holiday cottage in Sandend, Scotland

Beach Cottage, Sandend, Ref. 12172

This beautiful holiday cottage is located in the small village of Sandend, on the north-east coast of Scotland. Standing in an elevated position overlooking the beach, this cottage boasts unrivalled views across the sand and sea; offering light, airy and spacious accommodation for a family or group of friends. There are plenty of coastal walks around Beach Cottage and if you’re a history buff, then you’ll love the nearby ruins of Findlater Castle which overlook the Moray Firth.

Brook Cottage, Falkland

Holiday cottage in Falkland, Scotland

Brook Cottage, Falkland, Ref. 16253

If you’re looking for peace and quiet amidst stunning countryside then you need look no further than Brook Cottage. This charming terraced cottage is just under a mile from the historic town of Falkland and offers guests incredible views of the Lomond Hills and Fife countryside. The outdoor decked area is the perfect place to relax on a sunny day and the living room, with its cosy woodburner, would be the ideal place to curl up on a winter’s evening.

Aurae, Cawdor

Holiday cottage in Cawdor, Scotland

Aurae, Cawdor, Ref. 904499

Situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this bespoke log cabin has all you’ll ever need for a luxury holiday in Scotland. Sleeping 8, Aurae boasts facilities including a barrel sauna, large hot tub and floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the panoramic countryside views. Nearby, you’ll find Cawdor Castle which is most famous for its literary connection to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and Inverness, which is just 9 miles away.

Glenashdale, Dunoon

Holiday cottage in Dunoon, Scotland

Glenashdale, Dunoon, Ref. 12582

The Cowal Peninsula in Argyll is one of the most spectacularly beautiful regions in the whole of Scotland. With plenty of glens, lochs and highland hills to explore, you’ll never be short of things to do at your Cowal holiday home. Glenashdale offers forest walks straight from its doorstep and the beach is just a few minutes’ walk away. The cottage boasts spectacular views across the Firth of Clyde from many of the rooms and is the perfect base for families who want to discover this part of the country.

Seaspray, Portknockie

Holiday cottage in Portknockie, Scotland

Seaspray, Portknockie, Ref. 22242

Seaspray is a former fisherman’s cottage in the picturesque fishing village of Portknockie, which occupies a stunning elevated position on a cliff overlooking the Moray Firth. The cottage itself has been furnished to a high standard with stylish décor and sea views from the first floor. Local facilities are just a minute’s walk away and the Moray Firth coastline provides guests with fantastic walking and cycling opportunities, as well as the chance to see dolphins, seals and sea-birds in their natural habitat.

If you’d like to look at more of our fantastic cottages in Scotland then you can do so by visiting the Scotland holiday cottages page on our website.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

UK Travel Guide for Overseas Visitors

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
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Are you planning on visiting the UK this summer but have no idea where to start when it comes to finalising the details of your trip? Well don’t worry as Sykes Cottages have put together a short travel guide to Britain aimed at visitors from abroad. Read on for our hints, tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your time in the UK.

When to visit

British countryside

Via Flickr

Unlike other countries, the UK is a great tourist destination all year round. However, July and August, at the height of the British summer, are undoubtedly the most popular times to visit and as this coincides with the UK school holidays, this is when places are at their busiest. If you want to visit during the summer, it’s a good idea to plan your visit during June or September when the weather is still good but attractions are quieter. Other busy periods include Christmas, New Year, Easter and bank holidays. You can find a comprehensive list of bank holidays across the UK here.

The weather and what to pack


Via Flickr

The UK is well known for its unpredictable weather and you should try to pack for every eventuality. The weather is generally quite mild and so there’s no need to go to extremes, but travellers should definitely consider packing everything from an umbrella and waterproof jacket, to sunglasses and sunscreen.

Public transport and ways to get around

British Train

Via Flickr

Public transport in the UK is relatively good and trains in particular are a great way to travel around; you can get a train to almost anywhere in the UK. For more information about trains in Britain, head to the National Rail website. Another thing that you may want to consider looking into is a BritRail pass. These passes are available to anyone who is not a UK resident and once bought, provide you with unlimited travel on trains across Britain. You can find more information on the BritRail website. If you’re just travelling around London, you should look at buying at Visitor’s Oyster Card, which is a plastic smartcard that works on a pay as you go system and is by far one of the cheapest and quickest ways to travel around London.  If you’re not keen on public transport and are planning on renting a car in the UK, it’s worth noting that you will usually be given a manual car unless you request an automatic, which are generally more expensive.

Things we do differently:

Road signs

Via Flickr

  • Plugs. We Brits have our very own plugs that differ from the rest of Europe. Our plugs have three pins that are shaped like a triangle and so visitors from abroad will need to remember to buy a plug adaptor for their electrical items.
  • We drive on the left hand side of the road. This is obviously extremely important to remember if you’re planning on driving whilst you’re in the UK but it’s also of the upmost importance to pedestrians, who may be used to checking the opposite direction before they cross the road.
  • We calculate speed in miles per hour and our speed limits may be different to that of other countries. You can check out the speed limits here and you will able to see the speed limit for each road when you’re driving by looking at signposts.

Where to stay

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

Croft View, Yorkshire, Ref. 6735

We may be biased but we think that there’s no better way to experience the UK than by staying in a self-catering cottage amongst locals. If you’re planning a trip to the UK and you’d like to see how we can help, you can visit our website or give our dedicated reservations specialists a call on +441244 356 695. If you’re worried about your phone bill, avoid charges and let us call you by entering your details here.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.